Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins

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Elsy Alfaro
Mrs. Brayer
Ap English Literature
5 October 2012

The Overachievers, Non-fiction
Alexandra Robbins, 2006

Brief Summary and Arrangement:
This non-fiction novel is categorized into seventeen clear straightforward parts: chapters one through seventeen.

Chapter 1: In the first chapter Robbins introduces the students she followed along with the overachiever culture that has rearranged high schools only purpose into getting students into the most prestigious Colleges and Universities rather than the school that would be the best fit for each student.

Chapter 2: Chapter two, Robbins explains the impact of Asian culture and expectations on Asian American students, especially where education is concerned. She also talks about how the problem of overachieving is universal across our entire country, not just in affluent areas or at well-known high schools.

Chapter 3: Chapter 3, details the impact of stress on adolescent health. We meet the world of professional college counselors whom parents hire to get their students into the college of choice. The emphasis is on the prestige of the University, not on the needs of the students.

Chapter 4: Chapter four outlines the importance placed on teaching to tests, including AP exams, and how NCLB (no child left behind) is changing the face of American education. In an effort to get us competing on the world stage, we are sacrificing true education and academic integrity for a prized score. Robbins describes the epidemic of cheating in our country, including information about the 2004 incident at Saratoga High School here in our area.

Chapter 5: chapter five, shows how competition begins as early as preschool and kindergarten. There are even consultants for the process of getting kids admitted into selective schools at this young age. This chapter also covers class ranks and GPA and several controversies over the titles of valedictorian and salutatorian as well as more abut how common cheating is, partly so that students can achieve high GPAs and class ranks.

Chapter 6: In chapter six, Robbins is invited to observe the inside world of kindergarten admissions at Trinity School in New York City. In addition, there is discussion of youth athletics and both their cause of major health issues in children and the intense competition at unhealthy levels and how it affects kids and their families.

Chapter 7: Here we continue our inside look at Trinity's admissions process, and then the topic turns to sleep and the adolescent. High School students go through a profound change. Their internal clocks keep them wired until at least 11:00 at night, and their bodies and brains now require 9.25 hours of sleep per night. However, high school days start at 7:00 or earlier. Some research has been done on later start times for high schools, and despite findings that this is a great success, most schools and districts will not even consider changing their schedules.

Chapter 8: In chapter eight, the high schoolers that Robbins had been following, start hearing back from colleges which they had applied for early decision admission. In their community they feel judged based on where they applied and where they are getting accepted. Robbins looks into whether a University's prestige even matters in a student's future success. (she cites many examples of well-known and successful CEOs and other executives who attended “ordinary” schools.) She also investigates into the magazine rankings of colleges and universities. It turns out that this practice is pretty faked and the entire process contains dishonesty on the part of competing schools. Finally, real admissions officers from Stanford and other prestigious share how the admissions process works, and we learn that much of what high schools students kill themselves to achieve actually has little or no bearing on their acceptance.

Chapter 9: Have you heard of “helicopter parents”? Chapter nine brings this...
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